Q: My husband and I were both raised in the same religion, which for various reasons we have not chosen to continue as adults. My mother has grown more devout over the years. She continually asks whether I've done this or that observance, none of which I've participated in for 20 years.
I have tried on a few occasions to discuss my religious views with my mother, and it always resulted in vitriol that took us months to begin to repair. She asks why I have chosen to reject the religion — I know she sees herself as being rejected, by extension — and why I am choosing to shock and hurt her in this way. I have said explicitly that I am not rejecting her.
After the last explosion, I kept religious discussions out of my relationship with my mother. I did not bring it up, and whenever she did, I would guide the conversation in a different direction.
This seemed to work until we became parents. My mother now seems to be pushing this more over the past year, so I can see that my policy of avoidance is not going to work. What do I do?
Without My Parents' Religion
A: Refusing to discuss something takes only one person; unless and until she ends your relationship, you are just as equipped as you have always been to keep religion out of your conversations.
Loving disengagement is even more critical now to your chances of getting along. Keep guiding the conversation away from the fire.
"Nothing has changed, Mom" might be necessary sometimes, or, "Asking again won't change the answer." But first do what you can with your tactic of introducing a new subject — warmly, with a smile, even if you aren't smooth about it.
She: "Are you having (child) do (ritual)?"
You: "I love you, Mom."
I could even argue that response does follow logically, if indeed the heart of every inquiry is "Why don't you love me?"
"I do love you, Mom. That's why I won't discuss this again."